After bravely facing down Larry Nassar, the many survivors of that monster’s sexual abuse came together as an army at the ESPYS, accepting the Arthur Ashe Award for courage!
The bravest moment in sports over the past year didn’t happen on the court, in the locker room or out in the field. It happened when more than 150 women faced down Larry Nassar, the disgraced former USA Gymnastics and University of Michigan doctor, detailing the sexual abuse they suffered by this monster. The 2018 ESPYS, on July 17, honored these survivors’ bravery, naming each one of them a recipient of the Arthur Ashe courage award. After an introduction by Jennifer Garner — “We have to hear [this story] to make sure it …never happens again.” — what seems like a hundred of survivors flooded the stage. It was Ally Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, Tiffany Thomas Lopez, and Sarah Klein who spoke while accepting the award on behalf of all the survivors.
“Make no mistake, we are on this stage to present an image for the world to see,” Sarah Klien said, indicating that the women gathered on the stage was a show of strength and unity. “Speaking up and speaking out is not easy. Telling our stories about abuse, over and over again, is not easy. We’re…being scrutinized…it is painful, it is grueling, but it is time. As a mother, we must start caring about children’s safety more than adults’ reputation. If we can give one person the courage to use their voice, this is worth it. If one victim of sexual abuse feels less alone after tonight, then our suffering has meaning.” Tiffany Thomas Lopez that tonight, it finally felt like women are “winning” the fight against sexual abuse.
Ally Raisman brought up the many times before his arrest when the survivors spoke up about his abuse, and how no one listened. “Thank you, Judge [Rosemarie] Aquilina,” Aly said, for helping the survivors reclaim their voice. “Predators thrive in silence. It’s all too common for people to chose not to get involved. … all we needed was one adult to have the integrity to stand between us and Larry Nassar. If had one adult believed, acted, the people standing before you on this stage would have never had met him.” Aly concluded the speech with “we suffer alone, but we survive together.”
“We are honored to recognize the courage of these women at The 2018 ESPYS, to acknowledge the power of their voices, and to shine a very well-deserved spotlight on what speaking up, fighting back, and demanding accountability can accomplish,” said Alison Overholt, Vice President and Editor in Chief, ESPN The Magazine, espnW, and The ESPYS, ahead of the ceremony, per SI. “They have shown us all what it truly means to speak truth to power, and through their bravery, they are making change for future generations. By honoring this group who spoke out, we aim to honor all of those who are survivors of abuse.”
The full impact of Nassar’s abuse was felt at the start of 2018. After pleading guilty to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina allowed all of Larry’s victims to speak at a sentencing hearing. 156 women, all who survived his abuse over the years, stepped forward, sharing their horrific experiences of sexual abuse and assault. “Imagine feeling like you have no power and no voice,” Aly said when it was her turn, per The Cut. “ Well, you know what, Larry? I have both power and voice, and I am only beginning to just use them. All these brave women have power, and we will use our voices to make sure you get what you deserve: A life of suffering spent replaying the words delivered by this powerful army of survivors.”
Larry was sentenced up to 40-175 years in prison, which was on top of a 60-year prison sentence from pleading guilty to child pornography charges. On top of that, he was sentenced to an additional 40-125 years after pleading guilty to an additional three counts of sexual assault. He will never breathe air as a free man ever again.